Cats

A Cat as a pet has related and specialist needs – this is an Assessment of how one breed of cat may differ to another in the home

The choice of which cat to have as a pet – breed, age etc, as with the choice of dog, isn’t just a decision of cosmetics ie simply the appearance of the cat, different breeds have different routine needs as well as differing behaviours.  Breed choice has implications in terms of the routine needs of the cat.

Decisions have to made about whether time is available to provide the daily grooming required by one of the long haired species, such as a Persian, to ensure their coat is free from matting etc.  The other extreme would be an almost hairless breed like the Sphinx which has differing requirements as it is more sensitive to temperatures change and can have skin disorders.

Long haired cats need significant help in keeping their coats clean, free from matting and knots in order to ensure the continuing health and mobility of the cat.  A matted coat, particularly in the arm pit and groin areas can impact on mobility.

The grooming should begin with a wide toothed comb starting with the underbelly and legs.  Knots can be helped out using talcum powder which would soak up excess grease and dirt but needs to be brushed out completely.  All the fur should be brushed in partitions, against the lie of the fur towards the cat’s head.  The tail should be brushed using partitioning of sections, with each section being brushed sideways.  Finally a fine comb should be used for the neck fur.  Grooming should be done daily, with the application of talcum powder once a week.

Washing a cat will only be tolerated by the cat if it has been used to this from kittenhood and often requires two people.  This is particularly necessary where it is a show cat.  Care should be taken to ensure the shampoo does not go near the cat’s eyes, nose or mouth.  The cat should be kept warm during and after the bathing, and can be dried using a low powered hair dryer (stop when the fur is almost dry), brushing whilst drying.  Alternatively just towel dry and then comb through.

A further requirement is to clean the eye area as debris can gather around the eyes, particularly in long haired Persian cats.

The grooming of a short-haired cat is not necessary unless the cat is a show cat as the cat will self-groom.  However, grooming twice a week is recommended to assist in the removal of dead hair, facilitates the checking for fleas or any skin disorders, dental problems or ear problems.

A stiff brush is used first along the lie of the fur, gently brushing all the fur to loosen the dead hairs and dirt.  Then a metal comb is used to extract the dead hairs.  Then a soft-bristled brush can be used to offset any static that has built up or clumps developing, finishing with a polish with a chamois leather.

It isn’t usually required that a short haired cat needs to be bathed.  However, if it has become greasy from road dirt etc or has dandruff, a bran bath can be used to absorb the grease and dirt.  Several handfuls of bran are warmed in the oven to hand hot temperature.  This is then rubbed all over the cat excluding the face and inner ears.  This is then brushed off with a soft brush.

Basic Characteristics of different cat breeds.

It is thought that the first evidence of cats living in a relational way with humans was around 9,000 years ago, however the close relationship with humans is considered to have developed in theMiddle East around 3,500 years ago.  Although initially it is considered that cats would have been hunted for their pelts and meat, their usefulness in terms of hunting vermin to protect crops may have aided their cohabitation with humans, resulting in benefits for both humans and cats.

It is only in the last 100 years that cats have been precisely mated to produce distinct breeds.

Cats generally fall into three categories: Longhair (Persian), Semi-longhair and Shorthairs.

Longhaired cats have specific and significant requirements in terms of grooming however are usually placid animals who are well suited to an indoor life.

Shorthaired cats need little or no help with grooming but lead more active lives, requiring a lifestyle and environment that can accommodate this.

Semi-longhair cats are the middle-ground – they require some assistance with grooming and their personalities entirely depend on their ancestry.

Different breeds have varied requirements in terms of levels of independence – those who are loving and enjoy much attention, such as the British Blue Cat – but this cat can be frightened of young children for example, so would be happier in a quieter home.  Whereas the Bengal Cat is more of a lively breed which needs lots of attention and stimulation.  The Cornish Rex Cat is one which enjoys lots of attention, and would benefit from being in a family with young children and other pets.

If the cat would be required to entertain itself and not create too much mischief, the Sphynx, Rex, Siamese and British Angora would be inappropriate choices as these are lively cats which require stimulation and are extremely energetic.

A Persian cat may be well suited to an environment which requires them to be wholly indoors, whereas the Somali for instance and the Maine Coon Cat both need the freedom to move outside and should not be confined indoors.  The Angora cat is active and inquisitive, but needs company, and the Ragdoll cat is calm, relaxed and well suited to an indoor lifestyle.

Most of the short haired cats are freedom-loving and therefore not suitable for an entirely indoor lifestyle.

Fewer than 5% of cats have a pedigree.  Therefore, the likelihood is that the owner of a cat will benefit in terms of ease and less expense, but in terms of character, attitude etc, there are no guarantees.

Further considerations of the owner/carer include whether a cat has been neutered.  The neutering process results in modified territorial, sexual and hunting behaviours and, in the long term the cat will become more friendly, placid and possibly less active.  The diet of the neutered cat needs to be monitored therefore to ensure they don’t become overweight.

Indoor cats should be played with frequently to ensure they don’t get bored – any boredom may manifest itself in destructive tendencies.

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